Capital | Bogota
Population | 44,205,293
Area | 1,138,910 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | Independence Day, 20 July (1810 from Spain)
Currency | Colombian pesos (COP)
Time Zone | UTC -5
Best Time to Visit | January to March (the driest time of the year)
Connecting with the Culture | Visit Cartagena, the living museum of Spanish colonial architecture. Beachcombing at Parque Nacional Tayrona, on the Caribbean coast. Hiking to Ciudad Perdida, one of the greatest pre-Hispanic cities founded in the Americas, hidden in a lush rainforest. Hanging out in cosmopolitan Bogota.
Read | One Hundred Years of Solitude by Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or anything by Jose Asuncion Silva, one the country’s best poets.
Listen | Columbia’s most famous musical export, Shakira
Watch | IIona Arrives with the Rain or Time Out by Columbian film director Sergio Cabrera
Eat | ajiaco (soup made with chicken and potato)
Drink | coffee – tinto (a small cup of black coffee) is served everywhere. Other coffee drinks are perico or pintado, a small milk coffee, and café con leche, which is larger and uses more milk.
In a Word | Chevere (cool)
Characteristics | Coffee; Garbriel Garcia Marquez; emeralds; lost cities; El Dorado; football
Surprises | Colombia claims to have the highest number of species of plants and animals per unit area in any country in the world; Laguna de Guatavita, the sacred lake and ritual center of the Muisca Indians, is where the myth of El Dorado originated.
NEWS ABOUT COLOMBIA:
Summit of Americas Ends Without Agreements
(Video Al Jazeera)
(HN, 4/17/12) - The Summit of the Americas which took place this past weekend in Cartagena, Colombia started off badly with early news breaking of a US Secret Service prostitute scandal on Friday. Then, some Latin American leaders criticized the US & Canada for continuing to block Communist-ruled Cuba from attending the 18-year-old conference. President Evo Morales of Bolivia, added that the US was acting "like a dictatorship" & at least 1 regional leader, Rafael Correa of Ecuador refused to attend the summit over the issue. The meeting ended on a frosty note Sunday, with leaders of Venezuela (not represented by Hugo Chavez due to health problems, instead his foreign minister Nicolas Maduro attended), Bolivia & Nicaragua all vowing to boycott next year's meeting if Cuba remains banned. The US & Canada also angered their Latin counterparts by refusing to endorse a final declaration on Argentina's claim over the disputed Falkland Islands (also claimed by Great Britain); & issues of drug legalization & immigration also made for contention. (Read more at Bernama)